Conquering Breast Cancer: What Are the Advances?

    Costa Rica joins the list of countries that have incorporated new pharmacological options and medical equipment to treat the disease

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    With the incorporation of personalized medicine and innovative, more assertive and less invasive therapies, oncology specialists have attended and treated breast cancer in recent years in the country.

    The approaches are more comprehensive, starting with access to studies that determine whether the origin of the cancer is derived from genetic alterations or mutations and with this prescribe focused treatments, which give better results in patients or even allow preventive studies to be started in relatives.

    In this sense, various hospitals offer medical check-ups that take into account risk factors such as age, gender or family history, to determine which course should be followed.

    Breast Cancer: The Powerful Alliance Between

    Detecting at an at an early stage of the disease

    “Today we can medicate patients, at an early stage of their disease, with pills that work as estrogen blockers and prevent possible metastasis,” explained Dionisio Flores, oncologist at the Cancer and Hematology Center of the Metropolitan Hospital.

    There are also monoclonal antibodies, proteins used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects, within which the cancer is found; or immunotherapy, which stimulates the body’s natural defenses to fight the disease.

    Less invasive treatments

    “The concept that we use now is that of the minimum treatment, when before it was the maximum possible treatment, of being very radical with surgery, of giving very general radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Today we try to give the minimum things, which we know will be effective”, explained Herman Barquero, specialist in General Surgery and Surgical Oncology at Hospital México.

    Innovation has also allowed the medical community to perform procedures in which the removal of tumors is done with the least possible invasion, according to the specialist.

    One of them is the lumpectomy, surgery in which the cancerous breast tissue is removed along with a border of normal tissue and preserves the rest of the breast and with this its sensitivity.

    “We also incorporate oncoplastics, which are plastic surgery techniques in oncology operations, this is a safe treatment that offers less long-term aesthetic and functional repercussion”; Boatman detailed.

    “We have more efficient mammograms, which detect abnormalities in the breasts more precisely, also with the inclusion of treatments focused on molecular biology that identify the subtype of cancer and thereby determine whether it needs chemotherapy or not,” explained Oscar Sáez, gynecologist and oncologist at CIMA San José Hospital.

    Early detection is key

    Along with medical innovations, early detection is essential to have a timely diagnosis and thus a longer survival of the disease. “Early detection and diagnosis are key in breast cancer because they allow the molecular subtype and stage of the disease to be determined, allowing the medical team to determine the treatment and increase the survival prognosis,” said Vanessa Campos, doctor and cancer medical manager of breast and cervical of Roche Caribe, Central America and Venezuela.

    In Costa Rica, this pathology claimed the lives of 427 women in 2020 according to the Ministry of Health. While, of every hundred cancer patients, 31 are breast cancer. The country has the highest five-year net survival in the world among women with breast cancer, with 86.7%, and is the only country in Latin America that exceeds the average of the rest of the members (84.8%) according to with the OECD.

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